Fan fiction is an often hotly-contested issue in publishing. The concept of writers taking existing characters and settings and writing entirely new story lines for them can be deeply divisive. For some authors, having fans write new plots with their established characters is a flattering look at the ways their readers engage with the characters, and symbolizes that the authors’ works were so meaningful to the fans that they weren’t ready to let go of the fun. For other authors, however, fan fiction is akin to theft, and lawsuits have been enacted to halt it.
For its part, Amazon Publishing announced today that it is rolling out a new self-publishing platform the lets writers explore their favorite characters through published fan fiction, while still acknowledging the ownership of those characters by the original rights’ holders. Kindle Worlds, a fan fiction platform that will pay both the fan fiction author and the original authors royalties from the sales, already has inked deals with several major book and television series. Under this royalty structure, the authors will continue to earn 35% of net sales.
“Our books have generated a massive amount of fan fiction, and we see this as an evolution in publishing and a valuable way of broadening our brands and engaging fans,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President Alloy Entertainment. “When working with Amazon Publishing on this scale, we know we’re in good hands and everyone will benefit.”
“Seeing Pretty Little Liars fans adapt and create their own stories is both exciting and flattering and I think what Amazon Publishing is offering through Kindle Worlds is a great way to reward their ingenuity,” said Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars.
Several authors have already signed on to have their works included in this platform, or to create new content within Kindle Worlds. Amazon Publishing will be working with the original rights’ holders to set guidelines for what is deemed acceptable to ensure the integrity of their original works.